Monday October 21, 2019

Baby Gene Experiment Foolish and Dangerous: Experts

Professor He Jiankui shocked the world when he genetically altered the twins

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IVF method
Terming it a unique case, doctors said delivering a baby by cancer patients post chemotherapy gets tougher with the age. Pixabay

The first people to be gene-edited — a pair of baby twin girls — may have been mutated in a way that shortens life expectancy, research suggests.

Professor He Jiankui shocked the world when he genetically altered the twins to try to give them protection against HIV, the BBC reported.

However, now a study in Nature Medicine shows people who naturally have the mutation — he was trying to recreate — were significantly more likely to die young.

Experts said Prof He’s actions were “very dangerous” and “foolish”.

Baby, Gene, Experiment, Foolish
The first people to be gene-edited a pair of baby twin girls may have been mutated in a way that shortens life expectancy.Pixabay

Prof He was targeting a gene called CCR5. It is a set of genetic instructions that are important for how the immune system functions. They are also the doorway that human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) walks through to infect cells.

Mutations to CCR5 essentially lock the door and give people resistance to HIV. So, Prof He made embryos in an IVF clinic and then used gene-editing technologies on the twins to alter the CCR5 gene.

Resulting in girls — named Lulu and Nana — who were born last year.

The problem is CCR5 has a bigger role in the body than just making people vulnerable to HIV. It is active in the brain and in fighting off other infections, particularly flu.

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The study, at the University of California, Berkeley, looked at nearly 410,000 people in the UK, among them those who had only the mutated version of CCR5 were 20 per cent more likely to die before they turned 78. (IANS)

Next Story

Heavier Babies are More Prone to Childhood Allergies: Research

For the study, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the research team carried out a systematic review assessing past studies in humans

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Babies
For each kilogram increase in birth weight of Babies, there was a 44 per cent increase in the risk that a child had food allergies or a 17 per cent increase in the risk that they had eczema. Pixabay

Parents, take note. Researchers have found that heavier babies are more likely to suffer childhood food allergies or eczema.

For the study, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the research team carried out a systematic review assessing past studies in humans.

After screening more than 15,000 studies, they identified 42 that included data on more than two million allergy sufferers.

“We analysed the associations between birth weight, corrected for gestational age, and the incidence of allergic diseases in children and adults,” said Kathy Gatford from the University of Adelaide in Australia.

“For each kilogram increase in birth weight there was a 44 per cent increase in the risk that a child had food allergies or a 17 per cent increase in the risk that they had eczema,” Gatford said.

According to the researchers, they analysed studies that included over 2.1 million people affected by allergic dermatitis, commonly known as eczema, nearly 70,000 people affected by food allergies and over 100,000 people with allergic rhinitis or hay fever.

Most of the studies were in children from developed countries and most were European.

babies
Study Says that heavier Babies are more likely to suffer childhood food allergies or eczema. Pixabay

“Allergic diseases including eczema, hay fever, food allergies, anaphylaxis and asthma are estimated to affect 30-40 per cent of the world’s population,” Gatford said..

“It is increasingly clear that genetics alone do not explain risks of developing allergies, and that environmental exposures before and around birth can programme individuals to increased or decreased risk of allergies,” Gatford added.

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Most of the allergies in these studies were assessed in young children. (IANS)